|Community Health Workers|
From an article in Modern Ghana: “According to the National Malaria Control Programme, ‘During 2009, a person in Ghana died from malaria about every 3 hours. This means about 3,000 people died of malaria in Ghana that year alone, most of them children.’"
I remember Lawrence showing up to work one day, sweating heavily, with a dazed look in his eyes. I asked what’s wrong, and he waved it off, “Oh, it’s nothing, just a little malaria…” as though it were a case of the sniffles in Canada (which would lay up your average worker with whines and daytime TV). “I’ve got some medicine, I just need to enter the attendance from the library last night…”
In 2004, at the Bibiani Hospital (the only public hospital in the district, and the one that people in Humjibre must attend; it is about 33 miles away, and it has one ambulance) malaria accounted for 43.7% of admission (according to Ghana Health Service). Malaria was responsible for 34.5 % of all deaths; 38.7% of all deaths of children under 5.
Despite its potential fatality, Malaria is a way of life here, its frequency and severity is seen as a burden to bear…
GHEI has taken a very aggressive stance against Malaria in Humjibre, and in the neighboring communities of Sorano and Kojina. We have distributed Insecticide Treated Nets to all sleeping areas in those communities and have enlisted the CHW’s to constantly push the necessity of these bednets through education outreaches and one on one follow up visits. Still, like any community anywhere, apathy can set in.
Aggie Obeng, Mensah Gyapong, and Carly Edwards have begun taking decisive measures to combat this apathy. Here is Aggie’s announcement that has been spread on the Humjibre Public Announcement System, and in many announcements in all 14 churches in Humjibre. The hope is that all 4,000 folks in Humjibre hear this. It is presented here in its English translation from the original Sefwi:
We have a message for you about malaria and sleeping under bednets. Last month we had some volunteers come to Humjibre to help us conduct an evaluation survey to see if people here are sleeping under their bednets. Our survey told us that only half of the people in Humjibre sleep under their bednets every night. This concerns us very much. We have given bednets to every home in Humjibre because we want to help protect people in the community from becoming sick with malaria.
We know that if you are sick with malaria, it is difficult to study well or do good work or take care of your family. Mosquito bites give you malaria, so if you sleep under a bednet every night, then mosquitos cannot bite you when you are sleeping so the time when you can get malaria is reduced.
We have six community members who work with us to help you use your bednets well. We call them Community Health Workers or CHWs because they help teach you about different health issues. They are Yaa Mary, Yaa Nyamekye, Rose Ware, Shadrack Ofori, Mabel Dede Asiedu, Lydia Ampomaning, and Francis Yeboah. Their job is to visit your house once every two months to educate you on how to care for your bednets and to encourage everyone in your family to sleep under their bednet every night. They will help teach you how to hang your bednets and how to mend any holes in your bednets. If you have a question about bednets, you can always ask them.
Please, these people are here to help you with your bednets, but you must also help yourselves. Learn from them so that you will be able to hang your own bednets the next time. We cannot force you to sleep under your bednets. You must understand that sleeping under a bednet every night will help keep you and your family healthy. The CHWs will begin visiting your houses from the end of this week. Please welcome them and learn from them so that we can all work in partnership to keep everyone in Humjibre healthy.
|Aggie, and baby Nata on her back, demonstrating on a flip chart the way to tuck in your mosquito net|
If you have any questions or need a new bednet, please come to the GHEI office to talk to Aggie or Mensah or inform one of the CHWs. We will ask you to buy a new bednet for GHC2 (about US $1.25). This price is much lower than the price of a bednet at market, where a bednet might cost between GHC 10-20 (about US$7 -15). We have reduced the price of the bednets for you because we want to help everyone in Humjibre to have a bednet to sleep under so that everyone can be healthy.
by Aggie Obeng